I recently came across an excellent article on the Mayo Clinic website at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00001. The article “Oral Health: A window to your overall health,” discusses the connection between oral health and overall health. It explains that your mouth may harbor the first signs of disease and that diseases of the mouth, such as gum disease, can cause problems in other parts of the body.
Your mouth is loaded with bacteria which can be kept under control with brushing, flossing and regular dental visits. Saliva also defends against bacteria because it contains enzymes that destroy bacteria. But if the bacteria are not kept in control, a gum infection, or periodontitis, can result. Gum disease may provide bacteria with a means to enter your bloodstream. Dental treatment might also be a means whereby bacteria can enter the bloodstream.
• Research has shown that heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries may be linked to oral health and periodontal disease.
• Gum disease has also been linked to premature births.
• Diabetes increases your risk of gum disease and oral infections. And poor oral health can make your diabetes more difficult to control. Oral infections can cause your blood sugar to rise, requiring more insulin for its control.
• People who have HIV/AIDS often exhibit oral manifestations, including ulcers, dry mouth and painful fungal, viral or bacterial lesions. One of the first signs of AIDS may be severe gum infection.
• The first stages of osteoporosis, or bone loss, may manifest in loss of supporting bone of the teeth, resulting in loose teeth.
• Other conditions that may first exhibit in your mouth include Sjogren’s syndrome, some cancers, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse.
The relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides another good reason to take care of your teeth and gums. An investment in your oral health is an investment in your overall health!